兔死狗烹(tu si gou peng)
With the rabbits dead, the hounds are cooked
Trusted aides are eliminated when they have outlived their usefulness
During the Spring and Autumn Period, Fan Li and Wen Zhong were senior officials serving the Yue king Gou Jian. Against Fan Li's objection, Gou Jian blindly launched an attack against the neighboring State of Wu. As a result, he suffered disastrous defeat and was even held prisoner by the Wu king and had to work as his slave. Fan Li persuaded Gou Jian to endure the temporary humiliation, pretend to surrender and wait for an opportunity to strike back. Wen Zhong too tried to encourage Gou Jian and helped him to stay positive when he went to the State of Wu on diplomatic missions. Years later, Gou Jian was eventually set free. With the help of Fan Li and Wen Zhong, the State of Yue rapidly rehabilitated and annexed the Wu.
Due to their great contribution, both Fan Li and Wen Zhong were richly awarded. Gou Jian even offered half of the state to Fan Li. However Fan Li rejected the King's offer and went to live in seclusion instead. He had known Gou Jian too well. Fan Li then wrote to his friend Wen Zhong, "After you shoot all the birds already, the bows and arrows no use liao. After all the rabbits have been caught, the hunting hounds sure kana killed and cooked one. Brother, you better leave the King, if not sure kana one!"
Wen Zhong took Fan Li's advice and faked MC to skip imperial court meetings, but it was already too late. Gou Jian had believed slanderous gossips about Wen Zhong and commanded Wen Zhong to kill himself.